The 2018-19 academic year kicked off with move in days for 370 new and returning students. New President Kurt Steinberg joined with other staff, orientation leaders and resident assistants, to help students get settled in, meet their families and hear their goals for their education at Montserrat.
Move in days were followed by several days of orientation activities for new students, including Paint Wars, an annual Montserrat tradition. (See video clip below.)Students are divided into “armies” of different colors who march to Dane Street beach and using foam “swords” splash paint at each other. Donning cardboard helmets and shields, none were spared from the barrage of paint hurled at them from competing “armies.” President Steinberg joined the students in battle as he was initiated into the community. The students provided him with a white bowtie to wear for the occasion. (photo at right)
On August 29, the first day of classes, students, faculty and staff attended Convocation at the First Baptist Church. The community was greeted by President Steinberg, Academic Dean Brian Pellinen, Student Voice President Rose Sauriol and Liberal Arts Division Chair Assoc. Prof. Erin Dionne, each of whom offered inspiring thoughts to get the year off to a great start. You can view the full speech by President Kurt Steinberg and read the other speeches below.
The Class of 2022 had a class photo taken on the steps of the Beverly Public Library, another Montserrat tradition. The photo will show up again in four years at the Class of 2022 Commencement activities.
President Steinberg plans to meet with students monthly during informal meetings and lunches around campus. Welcome to the 18-19 academic year!
2018 Convocation Speeches
Kurt T. Steinberg
I am so happy to see all of you here. I am especially happy to welcome our first year students. I look at this moment as a beginning. A beginning for you and me. We both have the pleasure of starting together at Montserrat. It is a special moment….you only get to start at Montserrat once and we get to do it together. I am going to make sure that I am available and ready to experience everything that Montserrat, Beverly and Boston has to offer. I hope you do the same. Lets break out of our comfort zones together this semester and this year. Lets try to meet people, engage in experiences and broaden our adventures. If we don’t I know that we will limit our growth. For you….joining something and doing something different is necessary to expanding your education, increasing your perspective and putting your development as an artist, designer or artist educator as a priority and necessity.
I reflect on my own beginning in college and I approached it with no regrets because high school was ruled by a certain amount of fear. I decided to set that aside and to join the radio station and develop a show, work on concerts, and speakers. I took that plunge and I was able to meet some great creative people. I was able to be creative and develop a radio show. All things that opened my perspective and educated my point of view. I didn’t let my lack of risk taking in high school define my college experience.
I hope you do the same. As an artist, designer and artist educator start on Day One with these critical phrases in your mind…..
Class of 2022!
Now a message to all of you…..
I want to take all of you on a little journey of my evolving thoughts and what I am starting to comprehend about Montserrat and what I have held dear about art and design education for some time.
Our motto is WHERE CREATIVITY WORKS. I love that and I think it speaks a unique idea among stand-alone art and design schools. But….I want to start to take that concept a little further. Montserrat is not just a place where creativity works but I think it is a place that needs to help you start your life long journey of supporting a creative life. I will be talking more about this and asking for community input on this concept as the year progresses but let me explore it a little with you now.
I am going to ask you some questions. I want you to think about your answers and during the next year, I am going to come back to these questions as I meet with you and interact with you and hopefully learn about your answers to these questions. I am hoping the answers I hear will help us further develop what it means to support a creative life at Montserrat and beyond. I want to know how we might as a community help you on that journey and most importantly…what we can do to prepare you for that exciting and challenging journey of creative exploration.
Ok…here are the questions….
Are you living the life you want to live?
Are you living out your purpose or calling?
Are you deciding for yourself what you want?
Are you shaping your own world?
Finally…the bigger question is….
Are you shaping your world with intention? Or Are you a passenger that is allowing your choices to randomly shape your future or your present?
Creativity is stifled by fear, public opinion, and the limits placed upon us by others and/or ourselves.
So we must be….
Jack Gilbert a Poet and Professor used to say to his students….
Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures hidden within you?
So…some of you may be understanding my progression in these ideas and others may be asking….What does this have to do with Montserrat College of Art?
I believe it has a lot to do with Montserrat. It is our communities privilege and responsibility to help each other and especially our students to
To guide you and show you how through technique, guided experiences, artistic challenges, design problems and design adventures…we help you gain the courage to unearth those hidden treasures.
It is our responsibility to live up to our Mission. Especially as it pertains to supporting a creative life….
To quote the mission or our promise to ourselves in part…
“Structured around experiential learning, studio practice, liberal arts and professional preparation, the mission of the college ensures that its graduates leave equipped with the competence, confidence, and habits of mind to build lives of creative enterprise and community engagement.”
We further articulate in our promises to ourselves that we will be a place founded by artists for artists dedicated to challenging the status quo and seeking new solutions.
It’s a big promise and I am here to tell you that I know that Brian (our Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs), the faculty and myself are ready and able to do whatever we can to fulfill that promise as you start your journey here at Montserrat.
As the year unfolds you will be hearing more about ways I want to engage with the entire community. There will be moments large and small as I seek your input and thoughts about the answers to the questions I posed today and one last question….
What does Montserrat mean to me?
To clarify…I am not talking about the physical space but as a concept…the spirit of Montserrat.
My listening campaign will culminate in March where we will gather to celebrate with our community and the greater community of the North Shore and higher education the transition that a new President coming to campus indicates. It is at that coming together that I will report on what I have heard and tell you and others what this community means to me and thoughts for the future. I have told you a few things already today but there is so much more to discover.
I am excited to be here and I am excited to be part of this new class entering this year. Let us all make the most of our time here. Engage…and most of all…
Pellinen I am lucky to be the first on stage this morning to welcome you to the official start of the academic year, and to welcome you to convocation
Our challenge this morning is to find the right balance
of challenge and of welcome (either back or for the first time) of motivation and manageability, of head in the clouds and feet on the ground.
So where do I start this year. Let’s start where we are…
For some of you it might seems a little odd that we are here in the Baptist
church to officially begin our academic year. But let me bridge some of that strangeness. My role here at the college is Dean of Academic Affairs. The word dean is from the Latin Deanus, used to describe the head of a group of ten Monks in a monastery. I’m I stretching it to say that it’s interesting to note that Montserrat sounds a little like Monnesetarty? I know. Head is most often in the clouds. But this church is on the ground…
A church historically has been the place where people come together — to gather — to convocate, and we are here to affirm that we believe that there is a value is forming this
academic community around ideas of creativity art and design. Montserrat
is also very much about being IN a place. We are in downtown Beverly —
as is this church — and we constantly impact and are impacted by our Beverly community.
Those of you who are new to Montserrat Are SURE to make a significant impact on us and on this city. I look forward to that. Our New President will also have a major impact on our community. I Am and I’m sure you are curious and enthusiastic about his words of welcome.
Students, Faculty, Staff, Trustees, friends, Our new college President Kurt Steinberg
Our President, The Student Vice President and our faculty commencement speaker have told you things to do — to go out and change the world starting now. I can tell you similar things — and I can give you more examples. But like I said at the start — my head is most often in the clouds. So I’m going to talk about WHY WHAT WE DO HERE — now –this year will matter for the rest of our lives.
In his 1934 Book Art as Experience, The educator and philosopher John Dewey laments a missing word. In his book he defines Art as the process of making and creating. Related is the word ”aesthetic” which he defines as the perceiving and understanding –how people react to a work of art. For Dewy, both things — Art and aesthetic need to be present to make a complete Experience. If you work on a project and abandon before it is done — you can’t complete the experience. For those of us who might have been creating for ourselves and even then not receiving feedback on or reflecting on what we did — we did not have a complete experience. Completion of your degree here and walking at graduation will be a complete experience. Creating something for you senior thesis show and watching and reacting as people see you finished work will be an experience. Sitting here now and thinking back on this ceremony tonight will be an complete experience.
A complete experience, for dewey is an essential building block of learning. Even when our creations aren’t; successful or our entire experience positive, we can learn and grow. When we see how we react we see or when we see how others react and we can adjust next time to make sure our message is more precise or how we might better deliver a new message. You can take this learning, build on it — take your learning and move on.
Your learning and your experience will compound — will compound the same way interest on money will compound. This is how the risks, activities, and actions the others spoke about this morning SHAPE the DIRECTION of your life.
Taking small breaks and opportunities to reflect on what you’re doing and what you’re doing it is essential. Taking small breaks to clear your head will make you better and more productive than working straight through.. To have a complete experience, to learn, you have to do something and reflect on that thing, get distance from that things, see how other respond to that thing. Learning requires time.
For you — School, college, Montserrat is a moment time as much as it a physical place. It is indeed about your classes and your faculty, and your house, and the things you make. But is also about who you meet,. It is about how many experiences you and other have while you are here. I was reading a book recently about art schools in the 21st century and all of the authors were asked to fill out a questionnaire in the back. There were asked questions like” would you do it all over again” What was the most important thing you learning in art school” questions like that. What struck me most was that almost every single author mentioned that it was the friends and classmates who had the biggest impact. It was the comments made about their work by other students in class that they remember now, and it is those friendships and bonds that shaped them into the artists and designers and educators they became. So my directive is find, meet and keep those friends
As I return from the clouds, I’d like to ask you to do this. A very pragmatic way to meet people is to meet people. So if you would -since we in a church this seems appropriate, turn around and introduce yourself to the person in front of and directly behind you. We are small. I know you’ll already know or will soon meet this person again, see this person again.
Last year, at convocation, I asked people to think of a goal for the year and email it to me. At the end of the year, I sent that goal aback to all of the people who participates. I like this sort of large group activity. This year, I ‘d like to do something a bit more about place making.
I’m sure very few returning students know ti and new students will only know it if there were there this morning. There is a new PC computer lab on the second floor of 248 (or the bank building as you students call it!). The Computers (thank you Ari) are amazing.
BUT… The hallway on the way to the lab is a big white and empty. It needs stuff. In the coming days staff, faculty and students will receive an invitation from me to participate in producing a 6 x 6 object, text or design.. These 6 x 6 pieces will be hung in mass on 2nd floor hallways walls. This spot will be yours for the year. You can keep that one object, image, text in that place or you can curate the space and change it out as much as you’d like.
So more to come on that. In fact, more to come on all sorts of things including food.
We cannot be artists designers, scholars, students staff professors, without food. As you leave this convocation — this gathering you can head back to 248 or the Hardie building and will be greeted with bagels yogurt juice.
Thank you President Kurt, Thank you Rose, Thank you Erin, thank you all for being part of this amazing Montserrat Experience.
Enjoy your first day of class.
To those returning students, it’s nice to see you all again.
To those who are here for their very first time, welcome to Montserrat. Let me tell you a little about this school. First and foremost, it’s full of innovative and weird people. On any given day you could see a giant cardboard pineapple walking down the road. Or perhaps you go to grab a coffee at Atomic and come across a student *screeching* because they just made working pterodactyl wings and are just *that* excited. That may or may not have been me. Be ready for strange and amazing occurrences, they will happen. You put *this* many creative types in one area and you can’t avoid it.
Be prepared to work hard in classes, and feel satisfied in classes doing things that you love. Be prepared to see a familiar face anywhere you go in town, and know that they will be smiling. Be prepared for professors and your fellow students to push you farther than you ever thought you could go, and see that you are fully ready for your next adventure when you leave here.
I’m going to let my nerd out for a second and say I feel about Montserrat the same way Harry feels about Hogwarts. No, really, I came to the last month of summer eagerly counting down the days until move in. Coming to this school and becoming immersed in this wonderful community I immediately felt the most supported I have in my entire life. There is help around every corner, and abundant resources–the food pantry in the student affairs suite, the campus life staff, the school psychologist, the academic access studio, and now a brand new fabrication lab (or fab lab as we like to call it.)
I know you will be well taken care of here.
Now when I mentioned a pineapple walking down the street, this was not an example, it was something that actually happened. During your first year here it’s likely you’ll be doing a project in which you re-create an object in cardboard. Then you do it again, but a lot bigger. So one of my classmates decided to bring in a fresh pineapple and recreate it for their project. What’s funny about that is something I learned from Colleen Michaels in the writing studio, when I came to her because I was stressing out about this speech. Apparently, a pineapple in one’s home is a sign of welcome. They don’t grow in Europe, but King Charles the Second of England posed for an official portrait with a pineapple and from that it became a symbol of royal privilege. After that it began showing up in wealthy homes. A whole pineapple meant that your host spared no expense guaranteeing that you would have a good time. From that the pineapple became a symbol of friendship, hospitality, and welcome. Through a gigantic cardboard pineapple, Montserrat was telling me “come in, we welcome you, you’re going to have a great time” without me even knowing it.
(PULL OUT PINEAPPLE)
Literal or not, there will always be a pineapple. Welcome, come on in, you’re going to have a great time- I know I have. Thank you.
The first day of school is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s a new start, and I’m glad to begin my 15th year here at Montserrat with all of you.
But, as happy as I am to be up here addressing you all, I’m a little confused. Why me?
After all, I’m not one of the studio faculty. I can’t do visual art to save my life. I’m not teaching any first year classes this semester, so class of 2022, you’re only seeing me at orientation and right now.
And I’m not even going to be here for the whole year! In spring, I’m on sabbatical and off campus.
Brian and Kurt, what were you thinking?
(Oh well, too late—don’t answer that now!)
I do know that the choice of me being up here, whether they realized it or not, was a risk—for all the reasons I listed above and more. Will we connect? Will I have something to say that resonates with you? Will you be bored and sneak out?
Don’t sneak out.
Kurt spoke about bravery in his speech. I want us to take that one step further. I want us to be risky.
(Not a “bad choices-get-you-in-trouble” kind of risky, though)
Artists need to take risks.
For many of us, the act of being here is a risk. If you’re a first year, you’re in a new place—a new world. Every decision in front of you feels like it has massive consequences. “Should I go to that event?” “Should I talk to that upperclassman?” “Should I answer the professor’s question?” These can feel like life-or-death moments.
And the answer in them is always YES, by the way
You may feel a little uncomfortable. That’s okay. Uncomfortable gets results. Uncomfortable moves the needle. Uncomfortable moves YOU. And moving takes courage.
If we can’t manifest our bravery into action, into stepping out of our comfort zone and being just a little uncomfortable, we stagnate.Have you ever seen a stagnant body of water? It’s green and slimy and gross. That’s not us.
Montserrat is not stagnant. It’s thriving and bubbly and unexpected. That’s all from courageous risk taking, on every level here at the College.
For faculty and staff—and Kurt—it’s taking on a new position, with new responsibilities.
For students, it’s working in a new medium, trying something different conceptually, practicing that technique over and over until it becomes muscle memory..
It’s adding a minor, taking a different class, going to the Hogwarts Halloween party, studying hard for the first time in your life because you care about this class/professor/grade.
It’s writing 5 novels and then writing a picture book. And then learning how to write for film & TV.
This place is like a lab—a place where we all get to experiment and try stuff—ART stuff– and see what works for us, what we can do and make and achieve. First year students, you will leave here in 4 years having accomplished more than you can imagine. Seniors, juniors, sophomores—you know this to be true. I’ve seen it in you, seen where you’re going and what you’re capable of.
So, to encourage this bit of courageous risk taking in our newest community members, I’m issuing you a challenge. A dum one.
A dum-dum one, more accurately.
Here are 125 dum-dum lollipops. One for every new first year and transfer student this fall.
My challenge is for you to come and find me in my office (room 221 in the bank building) at lunch on Monday or Wednesdays. Introduce yourself to me. And tell me something about you—it doesn’t have to be profound. Something random or dumb is fine (your favorite color, who your favorite Avenger is, if you have a pet…you get the idea). You tell me your factoid, and you get a lollipop. A little reward.
BUT—5 lollipops in the bucket are tagged with a green sticker. You come in, you tell me your random factoid, and you pull out one of the green lolli’s—you get a $5 gift card to the Atomic. A bigger reward.
The cellist Yo-Yo Ma said, “Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, you’re more willing to take risks.”
You are here because you’re passionate about art and creativity. So unleash it. Embrace the risk to get the reward—starting with a lollipop.
See you in my office.